WR: Mysteries of the Organism

1971 fantasy documentary

Rating: 14/20

Plot: An in-your-face look at communism and sex and the works of psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich.

Eastern European movies sometimes go over my head, but it's never hard to appreciate lengthy scenes of plaster casting. And silly me thought that Cynthia Plaster Caster was the only penis mold artist. I guess I need to get out more. This has its fair share of pornography, scream therapy, and Tuli Kupferberg from the band, The Fugs. He strokes a gun the only way a human being walking urban streets in a helmet can stroke a gun--lewdly. I guess we're supposed to make the connection between sex and violence, but there were so many ideas thrown at you with this movie, I found it difficult to know what I was supposed to be focusing on. This movie simultaneously is a sloppy incoherent mess and redundant, not the best combination. It's like Dusan Makavejev held up a mirror to society and then broke it. The fragments only sort of come together though.

Of course, you have to appreciate its subversiveness. It's very much a product of its time--the challenging post-hippie and pre-AIDS world where communism is scaring a lot of people and making other people's lives unbearable. I'm not sure how timely the movie's message is now. Then again, I'm not even totally sure I understand the movie's message at all. When the ideas come together, there's something mesmerizing and fascinating about this movie, but the times when the ideas come together aren't always easy to find.

I've seen three Dusan Majavejev movies now. Sweet Movie is more challenging and subversive than this one, and Man Is Not a Bird which bored me to tears. I'd say this and Sweet Movie are worth checking out once for adventurous movie fans.

This was my brother's Criterion movie pick as we make our way through a bunch of those. It wasn't his turn--he picked The Tin Drum, too--but felt I was moving too slowly. Next up is Kwaidan if you're interested.

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